The Oregon State University Board of Trustees on Friday approved tuition for the 2019-20 academic year representing a 4.29% increase for full-time Oregon resident undergraduates attending OSU’s Corvallis campus and a 4.44% increase for full-time resident undergraduates at OSU-Cascades in Bend.
Student fees determined by the university and student governments on the Corvallis and OSU-Cascades campuses also were approved by the board. Resident Oregon undergraduate students taking 15 credit hours per term on OSU’s Corvallis campus will pay $11,708 in tuition and fees for the 2019-20 academic year compared with $11,211 this year. Resident Oregon undergraduate students taking 15 credit hours per term at OSU-Cascades in Bend will pay $10,638 in tuition and fees for the 2019-20 academic year compared with $10,158 this year.
Tuition also will increase for graduate students, non-resident students and students enrolled in Ecampus, the university’s online education program.
Approximately $3.8 million of the tuition increase will be dedicated to increasing the amount of need-based financial aid that the university provides students. The university already provides more than $40 million in student financial aid, in addition to privately funded scholarships and government-funded aid.
“Tuition increases are but one part of the university’s long-term balanced budget financial strategy,” said OSU President Ed Ray. “The Board of Trustees’ decisions regarding tuition are coupled with the university’s reducing its education and general expenditures by 2.1%, or approximately $12.7 million, beginning July 1, if state funding is at the level proposed in the co-chairs’ budget. These annual reductions will follow reductions in the university’s education and general budget by $7.5 million this year.”
Ray said OSU’s strategy includes decreasing expenses through efficiencies in management and administrative costs and directing funds to the university’s strategic priorities, such as student success initiatives, investing in modernizing aging academic building and research facilities, faculty excellence, admissions recruitment and fundraising by the OSU Foundation. OSU forecasts marginal overall enrollment growth.
Inflationary costs, especially rising state-mandated employee benefit costs, are increasing Oregon State’s education and general costs by $21.6 million. While Gov. Kate Brown has proposed no increase in state funding for Oregon’s public universities without new tax revenues, legislative budget leaders have proposed a $40.5 million increase to be shared over the next two years for all of Oregon’s public universities. University presidents have said it would take an additional $120 million in state funding to maintain current operations at the state’s seven universities for the next two years.
Trustees, OSU leaders and students continue to urge Oregon legislators to increase support for higher education.
The board heard testimony from eight undergraduate students, graduate students and university employees who opposed the tuition increases. Two representatives from OSU’s faculty and graduate student employee collective bargaining units – United Academics of Oregon State University and the Coalition of Graduate Employees – urged trustees to adopt a resolution calling for the Legislature to increase state funding for Oregon’s public universities from $736 million to $900 million over the next two years.
“Higher education in Oregon cannot be funded on the backs of students and their families,” Ray said.
As follow up to the board’s action on tuition, Rani Borkar, chair of the university’s board of trustees, will send a message to Oregon legislators urging greater state investments in Oregon’s universities.
The tuition increases follow months of work by university budget committees comprised of OSU faculty, staff, students and administrators, as well as numerous meetings held with students, faculty and staff.
The board voted 11-1, with two members absent, in favor of the tuition and fee increases, which also include:
- A 4.04% tuition increase for Ecampus undergraduates;
- A 4.09% tuition increase for Ecampus graduate students;
- A 3.01% tuition increase for Oregon resident graduate students;
- A 4.99% tuition increase for non-resident graduate students;
- Tuition increases of 2% to 6% for students enrolled in doctorate programs in pharmacy, veterinary medicine and students enrolled in a master’s of business administration and master’s of public health programs.
- Average increases of 5.2% to 7.2% in mandatory enrollment fees and student incidental fees at the Corvallis campus and OSU-Cascades.
In other business, the board approved advancing planning for the phased renovation of Cordley Hall, a research and academic building used by the colleges of Science and Agricultural Science; planning for the renovation of Cascade Hall for use by OSU’s Department of Public Safety and to be the new home of the university’s Navy ROTC program; and to start construction on renovating a portion of Merryfield Hall, which is used for research and instruction within the College of Engineering.
The board heard an update from Dan Larson, interim vice provost for student affairs, on programs and services that the university is providing for students dealing with hunger, and challenges finding affordable childcare and housing. Larson said the university is completing an assessment of student needs and is increasing and implementing a number of strategies to serve students struggling with hunger, childcare, housing and other needs.
Ray said he is committed to ending hunger at Oregon State and urged the university, student leaders and OSU stakeholders to work with him and others to address food insecurity.
“It’s up to all of us to address student hunger,” Ray said. “Any way we can, we need to address this. We can do it. I don’t know what it’s going to take. I don’t know how long it is going to take. But it is not all right for this university and for this state, for our students to not know where their next meal will come from.”
During Thursday board committee meetings, trustees heard a progress report from the Office of Audit, Risk and Compliance and an IT security risk management report.
The board’s Academic Strategies Committee approved adding OSU-Cascades as a location to offer a bachelor’s of science degree in environmental science, beginning in fall 2019. The program will be administered by the College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences. The committee also approved a new bachelor’s of science degree in business analytics in the College of Business, beginning in summer 2019, and master’s of arts and master’s of science degrees in communication in the College of Liberal Arts, beginning in fall 2019. Implementation of the new programs are pending support of the Statewide Provost Council from Oregon’s public universities and approval by the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Committee.
The committee also heard reports about the university’s enrollment management programs, in areas such as admissions recruitment, financial aid, the diversity of OSU’s student enrollment and enrollment changes within colleges and academic degree programs.
Trustees discussed the steps that the board will undertake beginning this month to conduct a search to select a new president as Ray has announced he will step down as president on June 30, 2020, at the end of his current five-year contract. Ray has served as OSU’s president since July 2003. Trustees expect to name a new president by early in 2020.
The board heard an update on state and federal legislative affairs, including Congressional appropriations being granted OSU research projects, including construction of three ocean-going regional research vessels for the nation.